• synonyms


noun, verb (used with or without object) Chiefly British.
  1. harbor.
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Usage note

See -or1.


  1. a part of a body of water along the shore deep enough for anchoring a ship and so situated with respect to coastal features, whether natural or artificial, as to provide protection from winds, waves, and currents.
  2. such a body of water having docks or port facilities.
  3. any place of shelter or refuge: The old inn was a harbor for tired travelers.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to give shelter to; offer refuge to: They harbored the refugees who streamed across the borders.
  2. to conceal; hide: to harbor fugitives.
  3. to keep or hold in the mind; maintain; entertain: to harbor suspicion.
  4. to house or contain.
  5. to shelter (a vessel), as in a harbor.
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verb (used without object)
  1. (of a vessel) to take shelter in a harbor.
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Also especially British, har·bour.

Origin of harbor

before 1150; Middle English herber(we), herberge, Old English herebeorg lodgings, quarters (here army + (ge)beorg refuge); cognate with German Herberge
Related formshar·bor·er, nounhar·bor·less, adjectivehar·bor·ous, adjectiveun·har·bored, adjective
Can be confuseddock harbor pier wharf

Synonyms for harbor

Synonym study

1. Harbor, haven, port indicate a shelter for ships. A harbor may be natural or artificially constructed or improved: a fine harbor on the eastern coast. A haven is usually a natural harbor that can be utilized by ships as a place of safety; the word is common in literary use: a haven in time of storm; a haven of refuge. A port is a harbor viewed especially in its commercial relations, though it is frequently applied in the meaning of harbor or haven also: a thriving port; any old port in a storm. 6. See cherish.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for harbouring

Historical Examples of harbouring

  • No doubt it is to make us all afraid of harbouring fugitives.

    Two Daring Young Patriots

    W. P. Shervill

  • My father was well aware of the danger he ran in harbouring Dio.

    With Axe and Rifle

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • He sentenced the lady Lesly for harbouring a stranger one night.

  • Modern Hinduism is also guilty of harbouring and fostering immorality.

  • This comes of harbouring a strange Phrygian in an honest household.

    Darkness and Dawn

    Frederic W. Farrar

British Dictionary definitions for harbouring


US harbor

  1. a sheltered port
  2. a place of refuge or safety
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  1. (tr) to give shelter toto harbour a criminal
  2. (tr) to maintain secretlyto harbour a grudge
  3. to shelter (a vessel) in a harbour or (of a vessel) to seek shelter
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Derived Formsharbourer or US harborer, nounharbourless or US harborless, adjective

Word Origin for harbour

Old English herebeorg, from here troop, army + beorg shelter; related to Old High German heriberga hostelry, Old Norse herbergi
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for harbouring


chiefly British English spelling of harbor (n. and v.); for spelling, see -or.

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Old English hereborgian, cognate with Old Norse herbergja, Old High German heribergon, Middle Dutch herbergen; see harbor (n.). Figuratively, of thoughts, etc., from late 14c. Related: Harbored; harboring.

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"lodging for ships," early 12c., probably from Old English herebeorg "lodgings, quarters," from here "army, host" (see harry) + beorg "refuge, shelter" (related to beorgan "save, preserve;" see bury); perhaps modeled on Old Norse herbergi "room, lodgings, quarters." Sense shifted in Middle English to "refuge, lodgings," then to "place of shelter for ships."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper